Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Treasure Island rejects new boat speed rules for Blind Pass

TREASURE ISLAND — Efforts to extend weekend restrictions on boaters using the Blind Pass channel to the Gulf of Mexico collapsed last week when the City Commission rejected consideration of new regulations proposed by neighboring St. Pete Beach.

Waterfront residents on Sunset Beach, as well as residents on the St. Pete Beach side of the channel, want slow speed, minimum wake rules in effect since 1997 for weekends and holidays extended to weekdays.

The St. Pete Beach City Commission has already agreed, but withheld final approval until Treasure Island agreed to pass a similar ordinance.

Tuesday, Treasure Island commissioners refused, despite pleas from its own residents and from St. Pete Beach Commissioner Al Halpern.

"We need to work together," Halpern told the commission, adding that he did not intend to ask his commission to change the boating rules unless both cities could agree.

At issue is the difficulty in enforcing differing rules in the narrow channel dividing St. Pete Beach from Treasure Island. The two island cities currently have the same slow speed, no wake rules for weekends and holidays, but no regulations during the week.

Before the cities coordinated their boating regulations in Blind Pass in 1997, boaters frequently steered closer to the Treasure Island side of the pass to avoid being ticketed by St. Pete Beach marine patrols that enforced that city's tougher speed regulations.

The current rules are a compromise reached after lengthy and contentious meetings that often pitted Treasure Island boaters against waterfront residents.

Now, a decade later, residents hoped the commission would be willing to make the rules stronger.

"I just don't think it is the will of the commission to do this," responded Treasure Island Mayor Mary Maloof after polling commissioners during a workshop session.

"I would be lying if I didn't say this upsets me," responded Commissioner Alan Bildz, who represents Sunset Beach and supports tougher boating regulations in Blind Pass.

Bildz told the commission that Sunset Beach residents "are up in arms" to force boaters to slow down in the Blind Pass channel.

Sunset Beach resident and Planning and Zoning Board Chairman Heidi Horak echoed that contention, urging the commission to take a "more comprehensive look" at the problem.

"The noise and disturbance caused by Jet Skis and some boats is extremely unpleasant, as well as damaging to marine life, sea walls, docks and other watercraft," said Suzanne Melling in an e-mail sent to commission members.

"During the week we have to suffer the parasail operators, Jet Skis, water skiers, cigarette boats, and others speeding up and down Blind Pass. It's dangerous and very noisy," said John Lowe, also a Sunset Beach resident.

In contrast, Dave Winkler, a Sunset Beach resident and Blind Pass business owner, objected to extending boating regulations to weekdays.

"The vast majority of people do not wish to see this ordinance go forward," Winkler said. "The compromise of 1997 is viable and it works. Safety issues are only a minimal problem."

Paradise Island resident and boater Richard Kraus argued against Sunset Beach residents making rules for the entire city. "Recreational boating is a huge element of Treasure Island's allure," he said.

Police Chief Tim Casey told the commission there is little evidence of a major safety issue in Blind Pass.

"When I first did a search (of police records), I thought there was an error, the numbers were so low," Casey said. "There were only 105 complaints over a four-year period. This does not represent a significant problem."

Treasure Island rejects new boat speed rules for Blind Pass 06/24/08 [Last modified: Friday, June 27, 2008 8:40pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Review: Jason Aldean fires up a country-dude party at Tampa's MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre

    Blogs

    Country music has a dude problem.

    I’m not talking about the proliferation of mindless bro country over the past half-decade, nor am I referring to the fact that most of Nashville’s best music these days comes not from said bros, from female singers and songwriters.

    Jason Aldean performed at the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre in Tampa on Aug. 18, 2018.
  2. President Trump offers prayers for Kissimmee police

    Blogs

    President Donald Trump reacted to the police shooting in Kissimmee:

  3. Kissimmee police officer dies, one gravely wounded; Jacksonville officers shot

    News

    KISSIMMEE — A Kissimmee police officer died and a second was gravely wounded Friday night, police Chief Jeff O'Dell said.

    Two police officers have been shot and killed in Kissimmee, authorities say. The shooting happened in the area of Palmway and Cypress around 9:30 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 18, 2017. Photo courtesy of WESH.com
  4. Longest home run at Trop and Erasmo Ramirez's pitching doom Rays (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Kevin Kiermaier returned. The problem was, so did Erasmo Ramirez.

    Seattle Mariners first baseman Yonder Alonso (10) scores on the double by Seattle Mariners designated hitter Nelson Cruz (23) in the first inning of the game between the Seattle Mariners and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Friday, August 18, 2017.
  5. 'Road to Nowhere' is back: Next phase of Suncoast Parkway coming

    Roads

    Despite intense public opposition and dubious traffic projections, the Florida Department of Transportation has announced that construction of the toll road known as "Suncoast 2" is expected to start in early 2018.

    The Suncoast Parkway ends at U.S. 98 just south of Citrus County. For years residents have opposed extending the toll road, a project dubbed the "Suncoast 2" into Citrus County. But state officials recently announced that the Suncoast 2 should start construction in early 2018. [Stephen J. Coddington  |  TIMES]